Stephens beats Sevastova to make US Open semi-finals

first_imgAMERICAN Sloane Stephens won a final-set tie-break to beat Latvia’s Anastasija Sevastova and reach her first US Open semi-final.The 24-year-old, ranked 83rd as she makes her way back from injury, won 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7-4) in New York.Stephens played superbly to come back from 3-1 down in the final set, converting her first match point with a brilliant backhand.She will face compatriot Venus Williams or Petra Kvitova in the last four.With Madison Keys and Coco Vandeweghe also through to the last eight, there is the prospect of an all-American semi-final line-up.It is four years since Stephens made the Australian Open semi-finals, but her ranking had plummeted to 957th following an 11-month break with a foot injury.Only two months later she is through to a Grand Slam semi-final and projected to break back into the world’s top 40, at least.“Oh man, I’m getting teary-eyed,” said Stephens. “I think my coach is probably crying.“This is just incredible. When I started my comeback at Wimbledon I could never have dreamed of this happening.“Making the semi-final of my home Slam, it’s indescribable.”Stephens got the 24 000 spectators on Arthur Ashe Stadium for the day session animated as though it was a night match with a dramatic win.She looked to have learnt from Maria Sharapova’s defeat by Sevastaova in the previous round as she reined in her power and, after a timid opening service game, began to move forward whenever possible.Sixteen trips to the net and two breaks of serve helped Stephens to the first set, and Sevastova’s hopes appeared further damaged when she had a medical timeout for attention to her leg.However, the Latvian resumed in more measured fashion, cutting her errors from 18 in the opening set to six as she clinched the second.Stephens was now struggling on serve, making less than 50% of first serves, and a woeful smash seemed to signal the end as she fell 3-1 behind.last_img read more

Beat Writer Q&A: Akhil Rekulapelli of The Cavalier Daily previews Syracuse-Virginia game

first_imgSyracuse tips off against Virginia in its season-opener Wednesday night in the Carrier Dome at 9 p.m. The Orange spent part of their offseason in Italy for exhibition games before winning two more in October. UVA, the reigning national champions, is led by Mamadi Diakite and Tony Bennett’s patented pack-line defense. The Daily Orange connected with The Cavalier Daily’s Akhil Rekulapelli to preview the matchup. The Daily Orange: Virginia enters as the defending champions, but the roster is a bit different than last year. What can Syracuse expect from the 2019-20 UVA roster? Akhil Rekulapelli: Obviously (Virginia) lost the three biggest players, what we call the trio of De’Andre Hunter, Ty Jerome and Kyle Guy. I believe they together averaged 50-55 points per game for UVA. A team based on (head coach) Tony Bennett’s system that doesn’t score very much because they have a high offensive efficiency to take the time to create shots. So losing their top three scorers like that they’re gonna have to rely on young and inexperienced guys. I think that’s going to be the biggest problem.D.O.: Do you think the combination of Virginia’s inexperience and potential early-season rust can hinder UVA Wednesday night?AdvertisementThis is placeholder textA.R.: Yeah, I think not necessarily rust, but definitely unfamiliarity. I think you have a lot of inexperienced guys heading into the Carrier Dome. It doesn’t get bigger than that, 34,000 all yelling and screaming. You’re not even in an environment that’s in a basketball stadium. … It’s a really, really tough place to play your first collegiate game. I talked to Casey (Morsell) at our media day and he was saying their excited for the challenge, but it’s a very unique environment. If they were going to be playing at (John Paul Jones Arena) or a more conventional arena, that’s different. From the start you’re going to see them pretty slow defensively, especially against the 2-3 zone. Even though Syracuse isn’t ranked, it’s going to be a tough game. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this game be very close.D.O.: Other than Mamadi Diakite and Kihei Clark, who’s the one player that Syracuse needs to watch out for? A.R.: It’s definitely going to be Kody Stattmann. I mean, Kody Stattmann last year played sparingly. He played a lot at the end of games. For example, at the end of those conference games, you start to see him enter when the margin is in our favor like when we blew out Florida State. Last year he looked very uncomfortable with the ball. He looked uncomfortable on the floor. But this year, especially during the scrimmage, he looked more confident and a lot more sure of himself. … I think this year he’s made that transition. He played for Australia and he’s familiar with the FIBA 3-point line that is now the college basketball 3-point line. I expect him to be a great player for UVA at the start that a lot of people don’t know about. When it comes to getting open 3s and mid-range jump shots, I think he’s going to be lethal. That’s one player for Syracuse fans to watch out for.D.O.: Prediction time, who takes the season-opener? A.R.: That’s going to be tough. I think it’s going to come down to the fact that you have two really strong defenses going against each other. I’m going to say it’s a low-scoring affair, but I’m going to say Virginia squeaks out a win, 65-59, in the Carrier Dome. Starts off slow, I think Syracuse goes to the half up. But then the Cavs will get it together and pull off a win to start the season. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on November 6, 2019 at 1:36 pmlast_img read more